In recognizing the rise in the production of designer toys – part merchandise, part art – Canada’s Design Exchange (DX) has dedicated an entire exhibition to these types of pieces, enlisting contemporary cultural figure Pharrell Williams, an avid collector himself, to co-curate the show. in collaboration with instigator and co-curator john wee tom, and DX associate curator sara nickelson, the three have realized a presentation of work that highlights the practice of more than a dozen key artists and toy designers like Takashi Murakami, KAWS, FriendsWithYou, Coarse, Huck Gee, and Frank Kozik who have established a following in this creative and commercial genre.
‘This is not a toy’ is the first occasion whereby the vibrant sculptures, figurines, and paintings grouped in the collectible toys category are being displayed within the setting of a museum.
Drawing its namesake from the disclaimer often found on the packaging for objects that may be called toys, but aren’t meant to be played with, ‘this is not a toy’ is dedicated to exploring the notions surrounding the conceptual toy; something which lingers between a fine art and design object, and whose price ranges range from just a few dollars, to thousands.Though ‘designer toys’ employ technical methods of mass production, they do so in a way that results in unique pieces and limited edition objects, typically associated with the art world.
The scenography of the exhibition space has been conceived to compliment the humorous, sometimes dark, figures being presented, offering bold wall coverings featuring various patterns to help visually and thematically divide the gallery. visitors are invited to engage with ‘this is not a toy’ through a number of sensory experiences, as they are immersed into a vibrant world that is filled with music video and vinyl.
On display until May 19, visitors dive headfirst into the realm of designer toys as the Exhibition Hall is transformed into a vibrant and whimsical environment, filled with forms ranging from tiny trinkets to enormous free-standing pieces.